Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve 2007

2007 is being ushered out with mixed feelings. It had its ups and downs, but more ups than downs. At least it ended on the most magnificent up note.

2008 will be a great photography year I am sure. Happy shooting to all.

Nikon D300, Nikkor 18-200mm lens, and Lexar UDMA CF Card

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Vicente Revisited

As the afternoon progressed, I could see a great sunset taking shape. I gathered up my gear and headed back to Vicente Point to apply all the lessons learned from my previous trip.

The sunset shaped up better than expected and it was really beautiful. I expected it to be good but not that good. After sunset, red filled the sky and I was able to get more shots from another location several miles away. Few times have I observed the entire sky painted in glowing red light.

Luck, or being at the right spot at the right time, plays a major role. After aligning the lighthouse with the sun over head, a biplane passed perfectly above the composition. I was fortunate enough to press the shutter at the right time in the right place (luck).

Nikon D70, Nikkor 80-400mm lens and Lexar UDMA CF Card

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Point Vicente Lighthouse

Today I scouted a new location for a sunset shot. Palos Verdes overlooks the Pacific and provides a wonderful vista. Vicente Point has an old lighthouse that I thought would provide a great fore shot.

Lack of clouds made for harsh lighting but it softened up as the sun met the sea. I learned a few lessons from this scouting trip. This location is better around the summer solstice instead of the winter solstice. The angle is much better.

Next I learned that I should have used my Lee Neutral Density filter to even out the exposure. Next time I will be better prepared to capture a memorable shot.

Nikon D70, Nikkor 80-400mm lens

Friday, December 28, 2007

Jack is BACK

Although I have only known Jack a little over 2 years, I have to consider him one of my dearest friends. We hit it off from the start because we share several common things. A fellow Nikon shooter, Jack has a great dry sense of humor that I enjoy. Jack makes me laugh every time we go out to shoot photos.

Jack admired my sunset shots and wanted to capture that daily magic moment for himself. For months I promised him that I would invite him here for photographs and dinner.

Today turned out to be a winner. You never know in southern California as we have few days ripe with the right clouds that spawn perfect sunsets.

After Jack arrived we had lunch at a quaint local 50’s style restaurant and then headed for the local camera shop. A few purchases later we headed for a tour of my favorite locations.

We ended up at the Hermosa Beach Pier to take our shots. It took some careful thought and planning but we set up our gear just before the sun started its descent on to the Pacific.

What a great sunset it turned out to be. I took almost 100 photos and I seldom do that. The hardest part was choosing which ones to keep and process. Every shot really looked good.

Jack seemed pleased with his photographs and I must admit he did a great job of composing his shots. They looked totally amazing.
We ended the day by dining on some choice Peruvian food. Thanks for a great day Jack.
Nikon D300, Nikkor 18-200mm lens, Nikon D70, Nikkor 80-400mm lens and Lexar UDMA CF Card

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Moon Over Malibu

Photographing the moon is a fun but challenging process. This photo was taken just after sunrise just south of the Hermosa Beach Pier with Malibu in the background. It was the morning after the full moon.

Why is photographing the moon so popular? We see it so often yet we cannot resist phtotgraphing it again and again. It is always the same moon but we shoot it anyways.

The Challenge. The moon provides a challenge because we usually have a 15 or so minute window to take a good shot. The secret on a full moon morning shot is to take it the day before a full moon because it sets just before dawn. That provides with enough early morning light to balance out the shot.

The sunset shoot is just the opposite. Shot it the day before the full moon as it rises just before sunset. Shooting the day of the full moon can be good also. I will write about my favorite moon shot in the future. The small sliver of a moon just before and after the new moon is most satisfying.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Manhattan Beach Fireworks

I never photographed fireworks before. I thought it would be a challenge and a nice addition to my portfolio. It definitely was a learning experience and a rewarding one at that. I took many keepers that night and I may never take fireworks photos ever again after this. Since I did such a good job this time, what would be the point? Basically all fireworks look the same.

Manhattan Beach shoots off 20 minutes of fireworks annually the Sunday before Christmas. Tens of thousands of people make the pilgrimage to view the spectacular and it is a sight to see. They shot them from the pier and setting up to take good shots was a cinch. I chose south of the pier because the westerly winds off the Pacific would blow the fireworks smoke away from my shots.

I packed my bag with my new Nikon D300 with the 18-200mm lens attached. I made sure I packed away my cable release cord. Without it, I would not have been able to get sharp pictures. Lastly, I stowed away my Gitzo 1228 tripod and Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead.

About a quarter a mile away from the pier, I set up my tripod and camera in the dark. I set the camera to the Bulb setting so that I could control my shutter speed. Setup was complete just minutes before the first fireworks filled the sky.

Having researched a few web sites on photographing fireworks, I settled on the suggestion to press the cable release just as the firework shot up towards the sky. I continued to hold it until the explosion took place and the last ambers burned out.

The great thing about digital cameras is its immediate feedback. Imagine doing this with film for the first time. There is no instant learning from your mistakes. It would take time to take the film to be developed and view the results. With digital, I just look at each shot and learned.

Sometimes I missed the entire firework because my aim was off. I made the adjustments necessary and shot again. After a few shots, I decided to take quick shots instead of holding the shutter open for a few seconds. Both look nice so I suggest doing both. Take some shots with quick shutter speeds and a few with long shutter speeds (1 to several seconds).

Nikon D300, Nikkor 18-200mm lens, Gitzo 1228 tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ballhead and Lexar UDMA CF Card

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Hermosa Beach Christmas

Merry Christmas to all from Hermosa Beach.

Hot weather and a cold drink. Weather-wise, we had a great day in Hermosa Beach. The beach was in the 70's and clear blue skies ruled.

This proved to be a great day to sit outside in the warm sun and read those books and magazines that Santa brought. The hummingbirds kept me company throughout the day.